12 INVESTIGATES: Obamacare rollout confusion

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Open enrollment for the federal government's Affordable Care Act is underway, and with it, a lot of confusion as to who's eligible, whose options have changed, and what they need to do.

Unfortunately, scam artists are ready to capitalize on that confusion.

It's been an all-out PR push, getting Americans to sign-up for affordable insurance, or Obamacare.

"Good health insurance for the price of your cell phone bill or less," said President Obama.

But now, a warning that criminals may be waiting to pounce.

"We think it's a golden opportunity for scam artists to try to take advantage and try to scam some consumers out of money," said John Breyault of the National Consumer League.

Breyault is already getting reports of scammers cold-calling people, demanding Social Security numbers, dates of birth, even credit card information - and sometimes telling those people they could go to jail if they don't buy insurance. Not true!

"If you don't buy insurance through Obamacare or through another insurance plan, you are not going to go jail," said Breyault.

Whatever you do, say the experts, don't give personal information or money to anyone who calls or e-mails you.

"Hang up on them right away," said Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne. "They're trying to get information that will enable them to get into your bank and take money from you. It's not legitimate."

Meanwhile, the Obamacare website rollout has been a public relations nightmare: days of glitches, crashes, and people who want to buy insurance getting kicked off the site. Technical experts say healthcare.gov seems to be riddled with software and coding problems.

"People are wasting hours trying to get through this thing, and I think the Obama administration has an obligation to shut it down, and bring it back up when it works," said Robert Laszewski with Health Policy and Strategy Associates.

The White House insists millions have visited the site - but they're not saying how many have managed to enroll.

"This is a problem that was driven by overwhelming demand from people, saying 'I want to be able to sign up for affordable health care,' and they're going to be able to," said senior White House advisor David Simas.

The White House will not be releasing data on enrollment in the federal marketplace until November. In the meantime, be wary of unsolicited phone calls about health insurance and don't freely give out your personal information.

Copyright 2013 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.